Havana Airport Taxi
The Jose Marti International airport is about 20 to 30 minutes from downtown depending on traffic. It’s location of Boyeros is about 15 km from Havana proper.
Terminal 3 is the international terminal, and has an ATM, an official currency exchange, duty-free shops, a travel agency, post office and information booth. There are four exchange houses in the airport, with an official rate and a receipt provided. You will only want to exchange money at an official exchange house (not with a taxi driver or local).
Havana Airport Taxi Companies
The following taxi companies are available in Havana Airport:
– Panataxi: +53 7 555555
– Taxi OK: +53 7 2049518
Service hours: 24 hours.
Average Taxi prices from Havana Airport
- Havana Airport to Havana Vieja (city centre) 25.00 to 30.00 CUC
- Havana Airport to Varadero 100 CUC
Different types of transportation accept different types of currency. CUC and CUP are different. CUC is Cuban Convertible Currency, is pegged to the US dollar, and is for tourists. 1 CUC will therefore always equal 1 USD. There are denominations up to 100 CUC. A way to tell the difference and avoid scams is that the CUC does not have faces on it and does not have denominations larger than 100 CUC. The CUP, or Cuban Peso, also called “moneda nacional” is used by locals, and this is the currency accepted for local buses and much local transportation. Due to this, some of this transportation is not available to tourists.
CUP has denominations of up to 1000 CUP. Note that you cannot exchange currency outside of Cuba, so you will have to wait until you arrive to exchange your foreign currency at a bank, hotel or currency exchange office (CADECA). CADECA is the safest and can also be found at the airport. You also cannot export Cuban currency, so make sure to use it all or convert it back before departure.
It is best to bring pounds or euro, as US dollars incur a 13% exchange rate! Cuba is mostly a cash country, so do not expect to be able to use a credit card. US credit cards are not accepted. It is a good idea to have a small amount of small denomination CUPs for street food, local buses, tipping and small souvenirs.
Havana Airport Taxi Fares
Of the four types of taxis in Havana, the yellow ones are the official tourist taxis. Do not get in any taxi that is not official. Pantaxi and Taxi OK are the official ones. The ride should cost around 20-25 CUC (Cuban Convertible Currency) one way, or a little more to the city center. Make sure that the meter is switched on! The official rate into the city is 25 CUC.
Pantaxi is the most affordable state-run taxi service in Havana. The cars are Peugeots, and booked at the airport tour desk. Ensure that the meter is on before you head into the city. Their number is +53 7 55 5555
Taxi OK services are a bit more expensive than Pantaxi. Their number is +53 8 77 6666. Note that there is little distinction made between the companies when you are being directed towards a taxi, so note which company’s car you are using for cost purposes.
Remember that it is illegal to ride in an unofficial taxi, though touts will approach you in the arrivals area to try to get you to ride in an unlicensed car. As cars in Cuba are few, it seems like almost everybody who owns one is a “taxi driver”! If you trust your haggling skills, go for it. Just remain aware and have both CUC and CUP on hand.
Havana Airport Taxi Scams
Go through the taxi dispatcher, let them know your destination and they will give you a price. You will want to present this to the driver and have a fixed price before departing. Negotiate the rate upfront if the taxi meters are not in use.
Always keep your valuables on your person. Any money, passport, wallet, camera, and important documents etc should remain with you and on you at all times, not in luggage that goes in a trunk or separate compartment. Keep your luggage locked and zip-tied to dissuade theft.
There have been multiple reports of travelers using non-licensed taxis having their goods stolen out of their luggage in the trunk, or having the driver drive off with all of their valuables as they were about to get in the car.
As for exchanging currency, please see the earlier section on this and do not exchange money with a taxi driver even though they will probably offer. You risk getting counterfeit or out of circulation currency.
Do not accept the driver’s recommendation on accommodation. When they ask you where you are staying, even if you do not have a place to stay, insist that you do. Drivers get commissions from driving tourists to certain hotels, and you will pay more as well for your room. Be firm, as you do not want to end up in an illegal hotel or hostel.
Tips and Tricks
Local buses run from Terminal 1, a domestic terminal, and only accept payment in CUP. Therefore they are not really an option for tourists.
Other options include bici-taxis or coco-taxis. The first one is a bike taxi, and not technically allowed to pick up tourists. The other is a three-seat yellow scooter and a fun touristic experience.
Bici-taxis are a bit like rickshaws. Tons of fun, but small and more suited for a daytime means of transportation once you have stowed your luggage at the hotel. They cost around .80 CUC/km.
Coco-taxis are a novelty and a fun tourist activity. Just keep in mind that they will have little room for luggage.
Knowing some Spanish will help! Learn enough to not get ripped off and to negotiate. It also helps to have some idea of where you are headed.
If you want to ride in an old American car from the 50s or 60s, try a collective taxi with a few other people. You have to wave them down as they come and go at will, negotiate a price and probably carry your luggage on your lap. This is an experience! Riding in a classic taxi around the streets of Havana can be one of the highlights of a trip to Cuba. An hour long ride should cost around 20 CUC.